Government shakedown

So I have returned to some very interesting lefty bleating – it appears that the federal government has identified a new source of revenue – welfare recipients. Before that it was multinational corporations, excessive super balances, the air that we breathe, mining rents, and so on. You get the idea. Somehow the lefties never minded before. But see what two of our favourite lefties are on about.

Peter Martin:

One of their stupidest mistates is to calculate fortnightly income by dividing annual income by 26. If the figure is too high the robots say someone wasn’t entitled to benefits during the weeks they received them, even if during those weeks the person earned nothing. In other words, they misapply the law.

Shocking error to be sure. Just as bad, I suspect, as dividing tax paid by accounting profit (or worse revenue) and reporting that companies pay less than 30% tax.

But wait – there is more:

One of the wilder theories is that they intended to. By inflicting a faulty debt recovery system on the public, they wanted to persuade ignorant, scared and busy people to hand over money they didn’t owe and dissuade others from ever applying for benefits again.

No! Really? Sounds just like the tax system. Not a wild theory at all. That is precisely what the government does, and I suspect, is doing now. Interestingly, it is Richard Denniss who bells this particular cat:

A company that sent threatening letters to tens of thousands of former customers demanding money when it knew that many customers owed nothing would potentially be engaged in a fraud. The willingness of the commonwealth to do similarly, to place the onus of proof on the citizen so many years after the fact, and to be hasty in the dispatching of debt collectors should shock conservatives and libertarians as much as it does progressives and welfare advocates.

Yes – it is fraud. We’ve been making that and similar arguments about government behaviour relating to taxation for years. So, no, we are not shocked, or even astonished.

There is, of course, an alternate theory:

A more likely explanation is that they didn’t know what they were doing.

It is, of course, very likely that the government doesn’t really understand how the welfare systems works (and the tax system too), but I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the government knows how to run a shakedown. People like Denniss and Martin are usually cheerleaders for government shakedown, so I’m going to enjoy their sudden appreciation of liberal values.

This entry was posted in Hypocrisy of progressives, Taxation. Bookmark the permalink.

71 Responses to Government shakedown

  1. memoryvault

    I have been able to vote in federal elections since 1973. In the time I have been legally able to vote there has never been elected a federal government that didn’t promise to recover untold squillions in overpaid welfare benefits, and further untold squillions in unpaid taxes.

    In each case it has proved to be an empty gesture designed to distract our attention.
    This case is no different.

  2. Gavin R Putland

    It’s called SPECULATIVE INVOICING.*

    (And yes, it’s fraud. And yes, the ATO does it too.)

    * HT: @rhematt, 24 Dec 2016; @scotty_49, 28 Dec 2016; @Asher_Wolf, 29 Dec 2016; etc.

  3. King Koala

    A mate is a security guard and said a lot of these notices went out before the holiday period and people had 2 weeks or something to contact centrelink during business hours. He said if they came in person they were directed to use the phone because staff in person could not help.

    Apparently they have a new algorithm for catching fraud that is pretty bad. If someone was receiving welfare for 3 months then found a job and worked 8 months in the year and earned 40k that year Centrelink is coming along and then dividing that 40k by 52 and saying you were 769 a week and therefore were not entitled to welfare so you owe us 3 months of welfare. It is a stupid approach and just shows some idiot in the office can’t write a decent algorithm or they just don’t care. I have also heard they are going back 6 years, which means most people do not have their old payslips for that time.

    He also said wait times on the phones have gone up to about 2 hours and people are getting frustrated which makes his job harder. He also reckons centrelink offices that have never had security guards now have been appointed security guards.

    I used to work with him in a pretty wild pub and he reckons centrelink is a lot worse. So many more druggies and mentally ill people who I would have never let through the door and so many of them getting frustrated with a lack of service.

  4. Gerard O

    People like Sinclair Davidson still imagine that the Gubmint “steals” their money and then shoves that money into some black hole, never to be seen again.

    This seems like a scheme designed to appeal to the more wacko elements of the LNP base, and has backfired completely.

  5. Baldrick

    People like Sinclair Davidson still imagine that the Gubmint “steals” their money and then shoves that money into some black hole, never to be seen again.

    Taxation is theft, fullstop

  6. RobK

    Gerard O,
    People like Sinclair Davidson still imagine that the Gubmint “steals” their money and then shoves that money into some black hole, never to be seen again.
    For a single sentence description that’s a good effort.

  7. RobK

    Like the complexity of tax law, the complexity of welfare law is the source for multiple modes of inefficiency and grief for all concerned. Legislators should get bonus points for keeping things simple.

  8. King Koala

    I just reread my comment and realised how much I have come to rely on my secretary’s editing.

  9. iamok

    A close friend of mine who is clinically depressed has been on the end of this govt fraud. I concluded it was a deliberate play. the govt employee said they all knew the online system did not work and that it was rejecting legitimate claims and approving illegitimate ones. Hence many under or over paid recipients as a default of the system. I said to my friend that the govt would assume that most of those rejected would not challenge, and would pursue the others. Net govt benefit and more PS jobs. Win win lose. Great!

    Folks this is happening across the board. The game is to reclaim or retain legitimate money that require more PS jobs to keep building the empire. Bunch of useless pricks they are.

  10. Will

    Gerard O
    #2252128, posted on January 5, 2017 at 12:56 am
    People like Sinclair Davidson still imagine that the Gubmint “steals” their money and then shoves that money into some black hole, never to be seen again.

    Excellent summary of how government operates.

    I am fairly certain that the cross matching exercise by Centrelink has caught many welfare cheats.

  11. Sydney Boy

    One of the wilder theories is that they intended to. By inflicting a faulty debt recovery system on the public, they wanted to persuade ignorant, scared and busy people to hand over money they didn’t owe and dissuade others from ever applying for benefits again.

    Busy doing what? Downloading pirate copies of GOT?

  12. memoryvault

    I am fairly certain that the cross matching exercise by Centrelink has caught many welfare cheats.

    Wanna bet?

    Taxation have been cross-matching computer records with Centrelink since the 1980’s. There was, however, a human element involved. The computer system would tag a record as suspicious, and a “real” person would investigate further. So, yes, people do cheat the welfare system in many ways, but doing it by failing to declare or under declaring legitimate earnings isn’t one of them, and hasn’t been for a long time. At least not successfully.

    Just how “good” this new, fully-automated system is, is evidenced in the released statistics. 169,000 letters sent out, 200 alleged overpayments discovered. Even if all the claimed “overpayments” were correct, that would be a strike rate of just 0.12%. And not one of those 200 is claimed to be a fraud – simply administrative.

    However, as it turns out, most, if not all of these administrative overpayments are mistakes made by the cross-matching algorithm.

    A few people illegally defraud the welfare system on a personal basis. It’s just not worth it. Not when it is relatively easy to legally rort the system. And the amount personally defrauded pales into insignificance when compared to the quasi-legal organised rorting that goes on, like the recently reported child care and training scams.

  13. Jumpnmcar

    Let me guess, IBM was involved.

  14. stackja

    Jumpnmcar
    #2252263, posted on January 5, 2017 at 7:51 am
    Let me guess, IBM was involved.

    IBM and ​Hewlett Packard Enterprise join panel for Centrelink payments IT overhaul
    Industry heavyweights vie for multi-year Centrelink project.

  15. memoryvault

    stackja
    #2252269, posted on January 5, 2017 at 7:59 am

    Stackja, if you read your link you will see the term “Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation Programme” “Transformation” is the bureaucratic code word for integrated voice recognition.

  16. Tintarella di Luna

    Evertyhing is done to make it easier for the gargantuan, slothful, unimaginative, group-thinking bureaucracy. John Stuart Mill nailed it back in the day, probably with the Court of Chancery in mind:

    The disease which inflicts bureaucracy and what they usually die from is routine.

    but until then it is the public that is excoriated and discomfited by the infliction.

  17. Tintarella di Luna

    is the bureaucratic code word for integrated voice recognition.

    Yes that voice recognition thingy is fantastic — I wonder what they’re going to do for the mute or those who simply cannot speak because of their disability — cut off their disability pension?

    I friend whose son suffered viral meningitis at age 2 and is now severely intellectually disabled and suffers uncontrolled epilepsy had his pension but off because the letter dated 7 September did not arrive at his parents home until 7 October and the time to respond was 28 September, so they cut off his pension. Centerlink had done that to countless people like my friend’s son — the matter was mentioned in parliament and then it magically stopped — there is no filter — a person who is very very disabled oftentimes from birth is treated the same as the terrorist with the bad back on the DSP.

    I used to received a set of forms every three months in relation to my son’s allowance even though his disability is severe, incurable and life-long. So every three months I had to fill out a form that reminded me just how very very disabled he is and justify to some faceless form filer why he should have any support.

    I wrote a polite but rather incendiary letter in those terms to the minister at the time which I think was Tanya Plibersek and, credit where it’s due, the letters then stopped for me and for all the families of people whose family members had lifelong disabilities. I think the letters now come only every five years.

  18. H B Bear

    Not Potential Greatness?

    Who knew?

  19. memoryvault

    Aah yes, the bureaucracy, Tinta. I’m trying to get through to Centrelink now, on behalf of an elderly couple. Called at 8.59 – sorry, outside on business hours. Tried again at 9.01 – busy. Have tried every minute on the minute since then – busy. Not put in a queue, mind you. Busy.

    This couple are in the late seventies and frail. Back at the beginning of November their rent assistance was cancelled – the reason given was they hadn’t supplied some info. The reason they hadn’t, was because they’d never been asked.

    Anyway, got all that sorted out, filled in the required form and lodged for them back on November 15. Since then, nada.

    Time to try again.

  20. Tom

    People like Sinclair Davidson still imagine that the Gubmint “steals” their money …

    Well done, Doomlord. I know it’s only awareness-raising among the moochers on whose behalf the government steals, but you’re doing the Lord’s work.

  21. .

    A few people illegally defraud the welfare system on a personal basis. It’s just not worth it. Not when it is relatively easy to legally rort the system.

    Hence why this argument the Liberals and talk radio muppets bring up is a sham.

  22. Chris

    Fuck Centrelink, and the algorithm they rode in on.

    I have been retrenched and out of work four times, each time nine months or longer.
    Second last time I had run out of money and applied for dole after six months. About four weeks of paperwork and interviews before I got something.
    I went for a job interview in PNG, out and in within a weekend – they cut it off. It took another two months before the job came through. Because I couldn’t figure out the sectret electronic communication method I never got any more.

    Retrenchements dont mean big packages, they just mean survival money for a while. They also mean that predicted income can be mildly wrong, so my wife merrily applied for Family Tax Benefits back in the day, and because I got a job we got hit with $13K to pay back – and this included that ‘wallet-to-purse transfer’ where they took away deduction for spouse caring for kids and turned it into welfare payment.

    If I could, I would cauterise that department with fire.

  23. Dianeh

    Tintarella.

    My son is autistic. Four years ago, when he was 7, I was called to a review meeting at his public school, which also had people from the regional office attending. I was told that my son needed to have his diagnosis redone. I asked of course if they had found a cure for autism and was met with stunned silence. I then told them I would be happy to have his diagnosis redone, if they were paying for it (as we are not entitled to do it again under Medicare) as well as paying for the travel and accomodation as we would need to go to a capital city to get it done privately. Again stunned silence. Lastly I told them I was reporting them to both the state and federal ministers for education and health.

    It all stopped there. I however reported it to the Medicare local office, who took action to ensure that such a thing never happened again. I understand that there families from Broken Hill who did what was asked as they were scared their funding would be cut and their children would no longer have assistance.

    I have heard of similar things with the disability pension as well. Any public servant who does such despicable things, should be instantly dismissed.

    I did receive an apology from the local headmaster who claims to not have known what was going on.

  24. memoryvault

    I went for a job interview in PNG, out and in within a weekend

    Typical Centrelink story, Chris. There is actually provision made for people to leave the country to attend a bona-fide job interview, it’s just that most Centrelink staff are unaware of it. This is hardly surprising – about half those I end up dealing with aren’t even aware they are operating under an Act of Parliament. They just make it up as they go along.

    If it was less than thirteen weeks ago, I’d advise you to appeal. More than that, and it’s not worth the effort. You’d get nothing even once you’d won.

  25. A Lurker

    Aah yes, the bureaucracy, Tinta. I’m trying to get through to Centrelink now, on behalf of an elderly couple. Called at 8.59 – sorry, outside on business hours. Tried again at 9.01 – busy. Have tried every minute on the minute since then – busy. Not put in a queue, mind you. Busy.

    Centrelink needs a call back function, where you ring once, your phone number and the position in the queue is recorded, and then you either nominate a preferred time to be called back or wait for the call back to get to your position in the queue.

    Would be a common sense solution and alleviate a lot of angst by getting either a busy signal or listening to muzak for hours.

  26. Garry

    Welfare recipients are beholding to the taxpayer. Shake them down as much as you like. We deserve to get value for money from every dollar of taxpayer money being spent – and providing bludgers and under achievers with an income isn’t very good value! Get your arse or at least be honest with the taxpayers money!

  27. memoryvault

    I have heard of similar things with the disability pension as well.

    Years ago I dealt with the case of a man missing an entire arm, including the shoulder (couldn’t use a prosthetic). He was right handed and it was his right arm. One day he got a letter stating his case had been reviewed, and he was now deemed fit for full time work.

  28. memoryvault

    Centrelink needs a call back function, where you ring once . . .

    Waaay too simple, Lurker. That wouldn’t employ any additional public servants.

  29. H B Bear

    This has all the hallmarks of Centrelink being sold a Big Data mining pup by IBM.

  30. memoryvault

    Welfare recipients are beholding to the taxpayer. Shake them down as much as you like. We deserve to get value for money from every dollar of taxpayer money being spent

    It’s idiots like you, and the cretinous politicians that listen to you, that are the cause of most of the problems, and much of the (unnecessary) spending, Garry. Example:

    Most people on the dole are genuinely looking for work. Most of them will eventually get work. In the meantime, they are just like business – the best thing the government can do is get out of the way and let them get on with it.

    But no. Enter righteous pricks like you who want them “shaken down”. So we have compliance systems in place that cost, on average, $150 a week per dole recipient to maintain. That’s half the dole itself. It’s also on top of the grand “shake down” – the Job Service Provider industry, which costs us a couple of billion a year and has never found a REAL job for anybody, anywhere, ever.

    But the Job Service Provider industry provides the means for the fake training industry to to thrive and prosper. What are we up to – $3 billion in fraud in 18 months? That’s just what has been uncovered – the tip of the iceberg. Most of it financing Jihad.

    Why Garry, I’ll bet you’re one of the cretins who thought the Abbott/Liberal government idea of dole recipients having to list 40 potential employers a fortnight was a good idea. You did, didn’t you? Admit it.

  31. Tintarella di Luna

    I however reported it to the Medicare local office, who took action to ensure that such a thing never happened again. I understand that there families from Broken Hill who did what was asked as they were scared their funding would be cut and their children would no longer have assistance.

    Which of course would be against the law. These bureaucrats are the worst kind of bullies and unfortunately parents with very disabled children are very vulnerable, oftentimes they are at their wit’s end and lacking the most basic resources like sleep to get through the whole darn ordeal; then they have to deal with vindictive, malicious trolls who prey on their vulnerability, lack of resources and lack of knowledge and power.

    Dianeh you sound just like my kind of woman. By the way Dianeh were any of these people giving you grief women by any chance? I have had the worst year with bureaucrats (exclusively women) and will be embarking on some rather challenging challenges to call to account the bureaucratic abusers and vindictive trolls who’ve made the life of my son hell — so look out. Great work Dianeh it’s the only way stand up to the bullies and they fade away.

    The first thing I tell people who are being threatened with having funding and/or services cut for kids who are very disabled is to ask for an immediate review and for funding to be re-established until that review is complete and the most important question is to question the qualifications of those who slashed the funding — they usually have the qualitifications of bloodymindedness, mendacity, vacuity, and precious little else.

    Dianeh, wow you sound like my kind of woman – that is the reason that I am always agitating it

  32. .

    Glad you said it MV because I get sick of pointing out stuff like that. The dole isn’t where the real rorting let alone fraud occurs – not mention empire building…

  33. Garry

    Memoryvault. Obviously you rely on the taxpayer for a living. In countries where there is little or no welfare or pension there is zero unemployment. Wonder why that is? I’m not the one who is stupid. Yes I did vote for Abbott government and I am proud of it! and yes I think the harder it is made for bludgers to bludge the better. And why would anyone care what it costs a bludger to live. After all it our money they live on, not theirs. Enjoy being subsidised by the taxpayer Memoryvault while it lasts, because one day the gravy train will hit the end of the line and you might actually have to get off your lazy arse!

  34. Myrddin Seren

    Minister: Humphrey Malcontent – we need to crack down on welfare rorts. We promised the voters budget responsibility. See to it while I catch a Lear Jet to make a keynote speech at a conference in Tahiti !

    Dept Sec Humphrey: Yes Minister.

    Humphrey hires some IT ‘consultants’ from Labor Maaates R’ Us – who he stood on the picket line with in front of Parliament House in November 1975 promising a dark revenge on the Tories.

    Labor Maaates R’ Us recommend a fat, fat IT contract to Big Computer – with appropriate fees, charges and commissions – which they happily discuss with Dept Sec Humphrey at some of Canberra’s finest dining establishments.

    End result – Humphrey gets ever more staff pumping up his budget;

    a big fat IT spend to recirculate through the Maaates network;

    a typically hamfisted implementation which has the Coalition and the Minister eviscerated on talkback radio and the Bolt/Blair nexus.

    Yet another lazy, gormless Liberal walking wide-eyed and clueless in to the Malcontent’s * killbox;

    and more free kicks for Shorten, Plibbers and the ALP.

    Liberal chair warmer to Humphrey Malcontent – ‘durka, durka, durka ??!’

    They keep falling for this stuff – how stupid are the parliamentary Liberals ? No wonder the factional warlords treat the parliamentary wing with undisguised contempt.

    * h/t memoryvault

  35. Tintarella di Luna

    Aah yes, the bureaucracy, Tinta

    Dante will need to install a 5th round of his 9th Circle in order to sufficiently punish the bureaucrats – their treachery, malice and spite is boundless.

    In St Michael the Archangel’s prayer I believe it is the bureaucracy which embodies all the evil spirits who wander through the world seeking the ruin of souls. and my prayer is all the more fervent because of that belief.

    Good luck with it all, I always try to call at 8:30am the phones are supposed to open at that time. Or why not ring the office of the Minister, Alan Tudge, I am sure they’d welcome something to do at this quiet time of the year. Failing that call the office of the Shadow Minister, the lovely Linda Burney.

  36. .

    Garry
    #2252360, posted on January 5, 2017 at 10:16 am
    Memoryvault. Obviously you rely on the taxpayer for a living.

    I don’t Garry.

    In countries where there is little or no welfare or pension there is zero unemployment. Wonder why that is? I’m not the one who is stupid.

    Indeed, you make an astute observation, but what are their wage regulation and occupational licensing laws like?

    Yes I did vote for Abbott government and I am proud of it!

    There is no need to be ashamed or proud of this. Abbott went back on his words. He was punished.

    and yes I think the harder it is made for bludgers to bludge the better. And why would anyone care what it costs a bludger to live.

    No it isn’t. You just make welfare more expensive. If you got rid of excise tax for example, welfare payments could probably be cut sizeably without any decrease in living standards.

    After all it our money they live on, not theirs. Enjoy being subsidised by the taxpayer Memoryvault while it lasts, because one day the gravy train will hit the end of the line and you might actually have to get off your lazy arse!

    I think it will run out one day too. Look at Japan for demographic decline. We simply won’t be able to afford it one day. It isn’t our money either. It is mine, yours etc. The government has no money.

  37. memoryvault

    Memoryvault. Obviously you rely on the taxpayer for a living.

    Yeah, obviously.
    You’re new here, aren’t you Garry.

  38. Rob MW

    It is, of course, very likely that the government doesn’t really understand how the welfare systems works (and the tax system too),……………………….

    Your too kind…….except for their own pension, they don’t know how any fucking thing works.

  39. Richard

    The system is a shambles. Functioning humans are required to deal with automated computer issues. Years ago my wife worked and was entitled to a small amount of daycare assistance (the one that mysteriously goes straight to the daycare provider). The payments required our child to be immunised. After having it rejected 5 times in a six month period after applying and paying for copies of our childs immunisation register and sending them into centrelink each and every time, my wife got fed up and went into a centrelink office on one of her precious days off to see what was the problem. Basically they insisted she go get another original copy of the register and send it in. She refused and sat there until a manger saw her in person with a computer terminal. After a few hours someone saw her and my wife demanded to have the computer screen turned around so she could see what the issue was. My wife works with computer databases and has a natural flair to find mistakes. On the screen she instantly saw that the medicare number was entered incorrectly. The six months of phone calls was solved by just fixing that one digit. She was amazed that nobody bothered to even look at something as logical as that or that the system didn’t have an automatic flag on the linking field that was causing the issues. I feel so sorry for anybody that is physically or mentally ill and relying on welfare. They are treated like cheats and bludgers and then have to deal with incompetent people running automised computer systems. My wife brother is mentally ill. He has periods where he can work and periods like now where he is back in acute psychiatric care. He was drawing down on his super as a pension because of his illness, and now that has run out he is on the DSP. But there have been so many errors because he is upfront and reports all his earnings when he can that he is left destitute at times. The system is a shambles.

  40. Jim

    “Yes – it is fraud. We’ve been making that and similar arguments about government behaviour relating to taxation for years.”

    Perhaps…

    I’d also question the legality of much of Government’s capital expenditure, particularly on infrastructure that does not pass a simple benefit-cost analysis (think Melbourne desal plant, most new transport infrastructure projects, every irrigation scheme since the 1950s, the NBN, and anything proposed by the National Party since their inception).
    If Government was a listed company and they made so many dud investments, surely the corporate regulator would be all over most Cabinet Ministers (effectively the equivalent of the Board) for not acting in the best interests of their owners.

  41. OneWorldGovernment

    Garry
    #2252360, posted on January 5, 2017 at 10:16 am

    In countries where there is little or no welfare or pension there is zero unemployment.

    Garry,

    Would you support a referendum to eliminate Section 51 (xxiiiA) from the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act?

  42. incoherent rambler

    No doubt Spot has the solution for infirm geriatrics and those with serious impairments. “Work will set them free”

  43. thefrollickingmole

    For those having to endure the wait times I have a little hint.
    Whe you are picking which are pick business, you will generally have no more then a 5 minute wait. Then apologise for getting the wrong selection, be nice and generally you will be transferred to a live person without the long wait.

    At least thats how I used to get around it for customers a couple of years ago.

  44. Petros

    Why not just cut off dole payments after six months? In my experience the ones serious about working will have found a job in that time. No need for job agencies etc.

  45. Tel

    That’s half the dole itself. It’s also on top of the grand “shake down” – the Job Service Provider industry, which costs us a couple of billion a year and has never found a REAL job for anybody, anywhere, ever.

    I agree it’s a shitty industry, but remember the old CES? That place was appalling, it was straight out of some Soviet dystopian nightmare. I once went into the CES thinking they would just take some notes, think about it a bit and send me out to a job. Boy did I get a fast education that day.

  46. Robber Baron

    Why is the entity called “Centrelink?” Surely its name should reflect its function. Welfare distribution bureaucracy.

  47. Roger

    It’s called SPECULATIVE INVOICING

    And Christian Porter is doubling down on it on the tube.

    We are governed by idiots.

  48. nilk

    Aah yes, the bureaucracy, Tinta. I’m trying to get through to Centrelink now, on behalf of an elderly couple. Called at 8.59 – sorry, outside on business hours. Tried again at 9.01 – busy. Have tried every minute on the minute since then – busy. Not put in a queue, mind you. Busy.

    This couple are in the late seventies and frail. Back at the beginning of November their rent assistance was cancelled – the reason given was they hadn’t supplied some info. The reason they hadn’t, was because they’d never been asked.

    Anyway, got all that sorted out, filled in the required form and lodged for them back on November 15. Since then, nada.

    Time to try again.

    MV I was receiving rental assistance a few years back, and it got cancelled because I supposedly hadn’t supplied the rental certificate. I had; I’d uploaded it.

    So I got told to resend it. I asked if I could fax it, and got told that you cant send faxes to Centrelink any more.

    So I uploaded it again and it got lost again. Another phone call and I found out that you can actually fax in, but it would end up in Canberra, to be printed out and then sent to the office involved.

    I shite you not.

    I gave up on rental assistance then.

    As a single parent I lost my concession card years ago because in one financial year I earned $50 over the threshhold. I didn’t bother making a fuss that time, either. I provided all the details when asked for, I filled in paperwork, faxed, posted or handed in when requested.

    I have jumped through so many hoops. over theyears.

    I have always considered it as taxpayers’ money, not mine, and so I never complained about it. I’ve put up with sneerng looks from staff members at times, and endless waitng on the phone.

    This latest fustercluck is just more of the same.

  49. Tom

    Love your work, Nilk. Don’t be a stranger.

  50. memoryvault

    I agree it’s a shitty industry, but remember the old CES?

    Tel, the CES was set up to handle the demobbing and re-employment of military personnel after WWII. By 1950 it had outlived its purpose. Nonetheless, it zombied along until 1998 (I think), when John Howard decided to close it down once and for all.

    But somebody got in his ear and convinced him that this would leave all the “disabled” out on a limb with no support system, and this might not be a good look close to an election. And so the vast edifice of the “Job Services” or “Job Provider” industry was born. Not out of any need, but to hoover a few votes for Howard from the cripples.

    At its height the CES would not have had more than 300 offices Australia-wide. In WA, for instance, in the metro area there were three – Mt Hawthorn, Midland and Fremantle. Regionally there was an office in Albany, one Kalgoorlie, one in Geraldton, and one in Port Hedland, and possibly 2,000 employees Australia wide. Today there are around 15,000 “Job Service Provider” offices, with somewhere north of 30,000 employees.

    For instance, there are 180+ “Job Service Provider” offices in Canberra alone, each with a minimum of four or five employees.

  51. Empire GTHO Phase III

    Welfare recipients are beholding to the taxpayer. Shake them down as much as you like. We deserve to get value for money from every dollar of taxpayer money being spent – and providing bludgers and under achievers with an income isn’t very good value! Get your arse or at least be honest with the taxpayers money!

    This isn’t 2GB, Garry. Motherhood statements and shock jock memes are about as useful as leftist propaganda in solving the problem.

  52. Roger

    Welfare recipients are beholding to the taxpayer. Shake them down as much as you like.

    Beholden.

    But they’re still entitled to be treated with dignity.

    If the government has evidence of fraud, then by all means send a please explain letter. But don’t treat everyone who receives Centrelink payments – which includes old age pensioners, the under-employed and family tax benefit recipients who work and pay tax, btw – as potentially guilty until they prove themselves innocent. Not only is that fundamentally unjust, it is politically stupid.

  53. Jannie

    I did fraud consultancy work with Centrelink in the circa early 2000s. At hat time they had a random review system which identified that about 30% of all payments were wrong, a majority overpaid. Total debt was around $2B. The rules were too complex and not even the senior clerks in region offices could work out the exact rates that should have applied. The regions were hell holes with angry smelly people mixed up with older pensioners and a few genuine short term jobseeekers, staff were intimidated and untrained. Their rule was just give a payment and get them out of the office, let the overpayment people sort it out at the end of the year.

    At that time Centrelink prosecuted exactly 4000 people per year for fraud over $5k, with the Commonwealth Prosecutor in court, 97% were convicted. They said the CDP would not take a case unless it was a dead certainty, so some very large amounts were not even attempted if the case was not easy to get through court. If their fraud people had the resources they could have nailed over 10000 convictions per year, who knows.

    But most overpayments were not through fraud, but confusion, and the punters took the money, hoping it would not be reviewed. Most occurred because staff found it easier to pay the punters rather than argue, and let somebody else sort it out later.

    Centrelinks main problem is the rules are too complex, too many exceptions and variations and types of payment, and the staff in the Region are not properly trained and overworked.

    I spent a few weeks with the Canberra people, they were very senior, very numerous, over opinionated and totally cut off from the problems at the workface. A huge amount of their staffing resources sit in fancy offices in Canberra and never actually see a welfare recipient live.

  54. RobK

    Thanks for that Janine. It’s much as I expected but you’ve filled in some gaps.

  55. RobK

    Thanks to MV and Dot too.

  56. Antipodean

    I remember the old CES. Went there a couple of times in 1990 as I had finished school and was looking for work. Perusing the job boards, I found a couple to apply for, grabbed the cards off the boards and proceeded to the service counter, only to be told that said jobs had been filled. So sorry.

    Back to the CES a couple of days later, same job cards back on the boards. Second and final visit to the CES and an important first step to RWDB…

  57. Docket62 (deplorable)

    We gave up on centrelink many many years ago. Have been ‘entitled’ to many payments over the years and simply refuse to have anything to do with them. Its easier to get a gun licence. On the other hand a relative has been a recipient now for 36 years – varying payments but always a basic wage now ending up with the appropriately entitled ‘disability pension’ which will be replaced by the age pension for them in 9 years. Assuming their lifespan is to say age 90 – they will have hoovered 70 years of income out of our pockets.

    This is commonplace, and fraud. They are perfectly well enough to work but choose not to. No algorithm will detect that.

  58. King Koala

    Busy doing what? Downloading pirate copies of GOT?

    No, you idiot. These are people who years ago went on welfare for part of the year and then got a job and are still employed. Now they are supposed to somehow find their payslips from 5 years ago, go on hold for 2 hours during their 30 minute lunch break, and then waste some overpaid public servant’s time telling them something they should have been able to submit online when first notified.

    This is a typical story: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/05/this-is-what-happened-when-centrelink-called-to-review-my-false-debt-accusation

    If the government is that desperate for money then cut the Centrelink directors 700k+ salary, asset test politicians for their pensions, end immigration, end foreign aid and go after white collar criminals defrauding the state and corrupt politicians. Eddie Obeid alone ought to be forced to pay back the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, he stole.

    If the government is really desperate they could send a bill to every single person who went to university for free during the 70s and demand they pay the equivalent of what the degree is worth today.

    IBM

    I don’t recall…did they handle the census too?

    In countries where there is little or no welfare or pension there is zero unemploymen

    Why don’t you move to one of those countries then Garry so you don’t have to put up with all the dole bludgers and parasites in Aus.

    , I found a couple to apply for, grabbed the cards off the boards and proceeded to the service counter, only to be told that said jobs had been filled. So sorry.

    When I was younger and looking for work I went into a Job Network Provider assuming that they helped you find work…

    I also applied for some jobs that asked for a Jobseeker number from Centrelink (which I did not have) and was never even given a look over. I later learned centrelink was paying companies to hire long term jobseekers.

    Then I found the perpetual scam that is labour hire companies and almost lost faith in humanity.

  59. Habib

    Apart from maintaining and possibly increasing the legion of window-lickers in the APS at Centrelink, I have no problem with applying for, and remaining on welfare of any kind to be as tedious, obnoxious, irritating, belittling and inadequate as possible. Welfare should be the last option, not the first.

  60. Dianeh

    Tints. Sorry didn’t answer before but have been traveling today.

    You are right. One of the regional dictators was a woman, the other was not and he barely said a word.

    The woman did not expect to be challenged by a country hick, which is what she thought I was. It was obvious from the condescending language that she used. She knew she was in trouble from my first response which was about the cure for autism. These simple minded bigots piss me off no end. Assuming that just because I live in a small town that I am powerless. I am an IT professional with 30 years experience and dealt with tougher than them. they are amateurs, used to bullying to get their way.

    To be honest, I enjoy playing with them, as they are stupid bigots with barely a brain cell between them. It is child’s play to wrong foot them. I had another incident where I was called up because my son (at 6) was racist because he refused to sit beside a little aboriginal girl one day. He knew this girl very well and they were friends of a sort but he was in the middle of a melt down. He wouldn’t sit next to her because she was brown. She could go have been fat or wore glasses, it wouldn’t have mattered.

    My response was ‘well she is brown, that is not racist, it’s fact’. I then told them to stop wasting my time and to follow the protocol for when my son was having a meltdown as they were breaching their duty of care.

    Stunned silence.

    I was never called up to the school again.

    But my son spent most of his day on the verandah with his aid,

    We changed schools at the end of the year.

    Tinta. I have followed your posts for a few years now, and I know you would do as I have done. I am honored to think that I am even in a small way, Like you. and like you I will move mountains for my son.

    You are a remarkable woman.

  61. Yashar

    I am a GP.
    I have noticed in recent years about one in five patients who present a Centrelink sickness certificate get sent away.
    Sometimes they are told ” Your doctor has not filled the form in properly.” ( The form is a simple one and the doctor has filled it in accurately but of course no indication is given of what is actually required.)
    I refuse to even look at the form. I tell them to return. Someone else will usually accept the form.
    I am not prone to paranoia but I believe the clerks now have instructions from above to refuse a certain proportion of forms.
    Lo
    I

    A

  62. Diogenes

    Tinta and Dianeh,
    I feel your pain having lived through it with no 2 son, especially the qurterly ‘review’ to get the 20 or so dollars a fortnight allowancek, i had a meltdown with my then local member, who happened to be Minister for Social Security, and we were moved onto a 3 yearly cycle. I had a similar meltdown with our local member , who happened to be Qld Premiere at the time about getting extra aide time at school, which was mysterously bumped up to 27 hours a week from 2, 3 months before the normal district review meeting, another meltdown with the DoN inthe emergency dept of the Mater Kids saw a change in protocol for chronic patients.

    King Koala,
    I was in a similar postion in the early 90s, the old CES was not set up to handle professional or para prfessional jobs, as a systems analyst they did not even have a code for any it related jobs except data entry operators. I also remember spending 2 full days bouncing backwards and forwards between dss and ces, to get the correct forms to restart the dole after a 12 week contract it was finally sorted when i made a casual remark to one of the dss people, that i am not making a threat, but i could see why that chap wanted to burn down the zillmere dss office the week before. as i had been served by this same person 3 times, common sense broke out, and the dss person rang the ces person, and the coorect form was finally walked over. The irony was that when i got home to have mrs d tell me to ring telstra as they wanted to give me a new contract.

  63. Gerard O

    There’s a lot of interesting comments here (as well as the usual garbage from the ‘bash the dolies’ crowd).

    Of course the real issues are the long-term de-industrialization of Australia, as well as the need for mortgage holders to have two incomes to afford to live in the big cities.

  64. Habib

    Why is it “garbage” to recommend that welfare revert to being charity, as it always was? Instead we have the proven method of government when presented with abject and utter failure of a policy or program- expand it, and spend even more of other peoples money, as it’s worked so well every other time. Are people so unimaginative and buttonholed that once something is in place, it can’t be diverted to a different direction, or binned? If the dole is such a non-issue and mostly accessed by hard-working slobs who’ve been laid off due to economic vaguaries, why are there tracts of bogan and ethnic suburbs hitting five generations on the rock n’roll as well as DSP supporting parent and every other stipend they can wheedle? Or every coastal ville infested with dickhead surfrats hitting the beach every day on Uncle Sucker? FFS, welfare needs a flamethrower applied.

  65. john constantine

    When do the massive overpayments of charity to the public service pension plans get looked at?.

    When Australia hits Greece levels or before?.

    Just saying that the mass migration rates that build Big Australia means that an entire voting convoy is forming up that can deliver enough votes to swing elections, and they will feel nothing about cutting public service pensions.

    The chinese australians i hear after a few beers have no problem with cutting all payments to the social justice aristocracies favoured pigtroughs in return for lower taxes.[or better pensions for chinese australian public servants that only got to the rort late.]

    Big Australia with 10 or 15 percent or more chinese will not be an easy place for those used to the old style handouts.

  66. nilk

    Thanks, Tom. Last year was hectic with work ramping up (good thing) and my girl’s school being one of those “safe schools” so beloved of Dictator Dan (not good thing). I got her out of a couple of the more egregious classes.

    This year will be fun.

    For those Cats with kittens needing more care and support than most and getting none of it from the so-called authorities, I’ll add you to my prayers.

  67. Jimmy the shafted

    Spending more money on centre link as a strategy to cope with welfare explosion is like continually seeking a bigger bucket to manage a growing leak in your roof . Unproductive and ignores the real problem!
    For gods sake 1) simplify the welfare system ,2) loosen up IR laws to put more people in work 3) stop muppets going on to tertiary education, and 4) invest ( if not directly then via tax breaks to private providers ) in technical and trade training .
    On the last point ,I’ve just been through 3 months of hell with greedy tradies in Sydney who charge more than surgeons because they can . Every one of these rampant thieves offered cash quotes too ( which by the way we’re still eye wateringly greedy). They are the new supermodels – don’t get out of bed for less than $10 grand a day..
    Our skill base is now full of out of work graduates , over 50’s on the dungheap , and zillionaire tradies who charge what they want because there’s a massive skill shortage .

  68. King Koala

    Big Australia with 10 or 15 percent or more chinese will not be an easy place for those used to the old style handouts.

    Just wait until the stealthy Chinese takeover of Australia is complete.

  69. EB

    I remember in the pension changes there was a whole host of idiots in the media screaming “there’s no incentive to save and invest for the future, you’ll be punished!”

    I’d argue it’s the complete opposite. If all these centrelink changes and fuck ups don’t encourage you to save and invest for retirement so you’re not relying on government, this is the shit you’ll be spending your time dealing with.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *